Steely Dan: Black Cow
Aja (MCA 112056)
Chuck Findley (trumpet), Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Jackie Kelso (saxophones, flutes), Richard “Slyde” Hyde (trombone), Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Rebecca Louis (background vocals).
Composed by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
Recorded: Los Angeles, January-July 1977
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
1977 was a year in which disco reigned supreme but underneath the glamor and the glitz was Steely Dan's epic masterpiece Aja which came out in the fall. This album featured a wealth of different jazz musicians while also offering up some of the band's most extended and jazzy compositions. On "Black Cow," jazz legend Victor Feldman plays a tasteful Fender Rhodes solo and Chuck Rainey funks it up over a Paul Humphreys drum beat. Steely Dan is one of the few groups in the history of music that walked the perfect line between jazz and rock, carefully orchestrating the perfect arrangements with an acute understanding of extended harmony.
"Black Cow" was recorded during a time when the band was winding itself down. They had almost completed their recording requirements for ABC Records and Aja was their most successful album to date. Though they scrapped the tour for the album after the first rehearsal (band members were complaining about pay scales), "Black Cow" easily made its way into the Dan tour repertoire of the 1990s and beyond and still sounds timeless when performed thirty years later.
Reviewer: Jared Pauley